Over summer I went to be beach with my teenagers, and ventured into the water. As a child, I used to race in and be one of the first to jump under. Now, well… let’s say I take it a bit slower. A LOT slower. First I test the waters by going up to my ankles. Brrr – it’s freezing (it is Tasmania). I take another step and wait a few moments. Once the water reaches my tummy each step is also accompanied by squeals. By this stage my daughter is under, and encouraging me to take the plunge and just dive in.
Despite knowing that eventually I will have to do it, I still procrastinate. Logic tells me to just do it and get it out of the way. I know that once I’m under, after the initial momentary shock, I will feel much warmer. Nevertheless, every time I go to the beach I go through this excruciating process before I am completely wet. Once this summer I even got up to my thighs and decided it was just too cold and I would rather go back and sit on the sand and read.
It reminds me of relationships. Watch children in the playground or at McDonalds – it all seems so easy. They just take the plunge and go and talk with someone or simply start playing together. No introductions needed. Meanwhile us mums sit on the benches around the playground, often silently and alone, occasionally exchanging nervous smiles with each other if another mum makes eye contact with us. Our children play and enjoy relationships with children they’ve never met, while we sit and feel lonely, wishing we could reach out to the mum next to us, but wondering if she will think we are desperate if we start talking with her.
2013 at MOPS is all about relationships. Our theme is Plunge: Love as if your life depended on it. In this year’s book, “Mom Connection”, the author Tracy Bianchi says:
“Motherhood, while marketed as a life stage of peppy bliss, can produce tremendous anxiety and isolation all, interestingly enough, while a woman is not physically alone. As mums we have little people literally hanging on us all day. We sleep with kids, nurse kids, strap kids to our chests in kangaroo-like carriers. We cannot leave the house, the car, the restroom without them. We are never physically alone and yet our souls starve for connection.”
I love Tracy’s perspective – as mums we are never alone, and yet mothering can be one of the loneliest journeys.
I can remember clearly those feelings of isolation when I had my first son Jacob and was struggling with a very unsettled baby with reflux, bordering on postnatal depression. I felt like I had received a life-sentence of two hourly feeds, night and day, and a child who screamed for hours on end. It stretched out before me as an exhausting path, despite my adoration for my gorgeous, blond, blue-eyed package. I needed someone to tell me it was just a season, it would pass. Jacob would not be needing 2 hourly feeds at sixteen – or even at two. I actually would survive. I needed people to journey with me, and I needed hope. I needed other mums who were doing this mothering journey to help me.
This MOPS year we will look at different relationships, and discover how we can safely plunge in and grow healthy relationships and not be alone. Together we’ll explore three different areas of relationships:
Mum Connection – learning how to reach out to others, make friends, and how to help others, finding out about ourselves on the journey
Family Connection – families can be such a blessing, but can also be a little messy. Being related to someone – by blood or marriage – does not immediately guarantee relationships bliss. This year we can explore building healthy marriages, strengthening our relationships with extended family, building our own family traditions.
Faith Connection – What do you put your faith in? Who helps you hold it together? Where do you turn when you are at the end of your rope? Do you feel that you have a relationship with God? MOPS is a place where we can safely explore faith together, and ultimately the great love God has for us expressed through his Son Jesus.
We don’t want you to mother alone! Why not check out your local MOPS group, meet some mums just like you, enjoy some childfree time and make some new friends? Take the plunge and join us.